Number of immigrants given passports predicted to reach a record 220,000
The number of immigrants given British passports is to hit a record 220,000 this year, it is predicted.
By Alastair Jamieson
Published: 7:00AM BST 22 Jun 2009
Last year the total number of applications for citizenship approved by the government was 129,310 compared with 37,010 when Labour came to power in 1997.
In the first three months of 2009, 54,615 bids for passports were approved a 57 per cent rise on the same period in 2008, it was reported.
At the same rate, the number receiving passports and with them the right to full benefits this year is predicted to reach 220,000, smashing the record total of 164,540 set in 2007.
The increase has been attributed to a rush of applications ahead of tougher rules that would extend the average waiting time for a citizenship from the present five to eight years.
Grants of settlement, the stage before citizenship, were also up in the first three months of 2009, running at an annual rate of 190,000.
A spokesman for the Home Office said: “The increase in settlement grants reflects the success of UK Border Agency staff in clearing outstanding applications. It also reflects the Home Office's decision to tighten up the criteria for settlement.
“In 2006 we raised the qualifying period for settlement from four to five years, which meant that migrant workers who wanted to stay permanently had to wait an extra year.
“We have also set out our plans for earned citizenship which demand that people earn the right to stay. We are now looking at raising the bar further by applying a points-based system to the path to citizenship and we will consult on this in the summer.”
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